V Stora Sundby I0/VII/95

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Stora Sundby I0/VII/95

Dearest Nicky

My journey in Sweden and along its shores bring me opposite to your shores and to your buen retiro and I cannot let this moment pass, when I am only a short cruize away from you, without sending you a 1ine as I shall not unhappily be able to meet you on the salty brine. Let me once more thank you with all my heart for the sending of those splendid ships[1] of yours, which so ably and powerfully represented the Russian Navy at Kiel. Alexei[2] was kindness and joviality itself and did everything in his power to make intercourse with our Russian comrades everything that could be wished for. Your kind permission to place him à la suite of our navy made my officers very proud and seemed to have given him pleasure. I had the opportunity of some serious talk about Eastern Asian Affairs with Alexei and also his good old Baron Schilling who was a very great friend of my Grandfathers. He will I suppose already have reported to you about it. I was glad to be able to show, how our interests were entwined in the Far East, that my ships had been ordered to second yours in case of need when things looked dcubtful. That Europe had to be thankful to you that you so quickly had perceived the great future for Russia in the cultivation of Asia and in the Defense of the Cross and the old Christian European culture against the inroads of the Mongols and Buddhism, that it was natural that if Russia was engaged in this tremendous work you wished to have Europe quiet and your back free; and that it was natural and without doubt that this would be my task and that I would let nobody try to interfere with you and attack from behind in Europe during the time you were fullfilling the great mission which Heaven has shaped for you. That was as sure as Amen in Church! One incident took place of which I think I ought to tell you as I am quite certain that it happened without Alexei's knowledge, but having become known among our officers created a very painful impression. On board the Grossiaschtschy -- the vessel which I invited Admiral Skrydlow[3] and his Captains to pass the Canal with -- two Engineer Officers were secretly embarked which had not been announced to our Authorities. The Eldest was Colon. Buhnow. These in conjunction with a lieutenant who is specially trained for the purpose and who had a large apparatus took photographs of our Forts and batteries made notes and sketches all along the road and finally when Skrydlow saw that my Naval Attaché was rather astonished to see quite strange people on the ship -- were introduced to him as two directors of waterworks and waterways! At Kiel Bubnow's bearing became so "suspecte" that Police and Gendarmes followed him. He went about in plain clothes and was prowling about the fortifications, which was strictly forbidden to strangers!

Now I think this is not quite fair, if you are invited as guest at such a fête in a foreign country which without reserve throws open its gates to you and lets you into its war harbour, to abuse of hospitality in this manner, to try to spy out your friend and that even under assumed character! The consequence is that this will make people very careful with Russian warships and creates uneasy feelings which I so deplore and hope to overcome. Pray excuse my mentioning this matter, but I thought it better to tell you directly instead of making diplomatic notes etc. as you know how I feel for you and Russia. But I do wish to have every difficulty which could arise in the work of drawing our countries closer together, removed before it strikes root.

Goodbye dearest Nicky my best love to Alix and to you, with wishes for a quiet summer and a nice little boy to come believe me dear Nicky

Ever your most affectionate friend and cousin


  1. The "Imperator Alexander II" and the "Rurik."
  2. Grand Duke Alexei, an uncle of the Czar, was for many years the Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy.
  3. Commander of the Russian Squadron at Kiel. Later Skrydlow became Chief of the Russian Admiralty.

Return to 'Willy-Nicky' Letters: Introduction, and Letters I-V (8 November 1894-10 July 1895)